It’s not exactly news that I love Nosy Crow’s apps, particularly their fairy-tale series (see our reviews of The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Snow White). The latest in the series, Goldilocks and Little Bear (November 2015; iOS only), makes the most of the app format.
Choose from “Read and Play” and “Read by Myself” options to begin. In this retelling, Goldilocks’s story is fairly standard, except for her biracial family (yay!) and a few embellishing details. She goes into the bears’ home, helps herself to their porridge, chairs, and beds, gets discovered, and is chased away.
But Little Bear also gets his own plot here, parallel to Goldilocks’s. His parents make porridge for breakfast, but it’s too hot, so they head into the woods for a game of hide ‘n’ seek while they wait for it to cool down. Little Bear wanders off and finds himself at Goldilocks’s house, where he samples her family’s pancakes (“too sweet,” “too salty,” just right), wardrobes (“too scruffy,” “too fancy,” just right), and reading material (“too boring” with “not enough pictures,” “too scary,” just right).
What’s really innovative about this app — compared both to previous apps in the series and to other children’s apps I’ve seen — is the way it relates the two interconnected stories in tandem. Hold the device one way for a scene in Goldilocks’s tale, then flip it upside down for a complementary scene in Little Bear’s. The stories converge when Goldilocks and Little Bear, fleeing one another’s parents, run smack into each other and strike up a friendship.
Subtly pulsing blue dots indicate where to tap for interactive moments that advance the plot. In addition to interactive opportunities throughout, simple activities such as collecting berries, playing hide-and-seek, jumping on the bed, and playing dress-up are naturally integrated into the storyline(s). A few screens allow you to incorporate your own audio or visuals from the device’s camera.
Tap a bookmark at the right-hand side of every screen to access two maps of scene thumbnails (one for each character’s arc) and revisit favorite moments. A parents’ section offers some tips for using the app.
All the Nosy Crow production hallmarks — a two-dimensional (with a somewhat cut-paper look) illustration and animation style, engaging narration supplemented with dialogue by a cast of charming child voice actors, plenty of visual and textual humor, and upbeat music — round out the app. Another winner.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $4.99. Recommended for preschool and early primary users.